Fitness
Moderators: melkor


How much Cardio to do when trying to gain muscle?


Quote  |  Reply

I'm sure this question has came up before, so sorry for the repeat.

I read that when you're in the "muscle gaining phase", you should only do 0-2 cardio session a week. The reason for that is b/c your goal during the gaining muscle phase is to slow your metabolism down a bit so you can gain muscle.

Does that make sense? Also, how much should you be eating then when trying to gain muscle? All answers are appreciated.. Thanks!

29 Replies (last)

No, that doesn't make sense, and seems wrong on a few points. A high metabolism doesn't hinder you from gaining muscle. A low metabolism increases your chance of gaining fat. Having more muscle increases your metabolism.

You gain muscle slowly, so if you don't want to gain a lot of fat with it, you should eat slightly more than you are burning. Adding cardio to burn calories allows you to eat more with the same net balance and won't hinder your muscle burning, unless it makes you strength train less.

OGR

So, should I eat maintenance calories or slightly higher when trying to build muscle? and any cardio I do just allows me to eat more (healthy of course)? Would 3 sessions of cardio (20-30min) a week hinder muscle gain?

I'm still about 10lbs overweight, will muscle building keep me at the same weight, but I will consist of more muscle than fat?

Will trying to build muscle cause me to gain weight?

I've been trying to lose weight for the longest time, so now this whole "muscle building" is new to me. Thanks!

Here is my opinion.  I like doing cardio, so I do cardio and weight training.  I think the cardio keeps my heart and lungs healthy along with the bonus of keeping any excess fat off.  Strength training is also great.  I've developed some great muscles, and because I also do cardio, you can see the muscles.  

Eating can be tricky.  If you are going to do both, making sure you are eating enough is key.  Your body needs that protein to help recover and of course your metabolism will be up so you may be a little more hungry.  I eat every couple of hours to keep that going and to avoid feeling overly hungry which can lead to over eating.  Use the tools on this site to help you figure out how many calories you should be eating.  I would go with moderate activity when given the choice.  You shouldn't gain weight while building muscle.  Some days the number on the scale may be up, but that is usually just your muscles retaining water.  Results take time, but be patient, it will be worth it in the end.  

I think you're over-complicating things. 

Cardio excercise improves your cardiovascular health, endurance, etc.  Lifting weights makes you stronger.  Your diet determines whether you gain or lose weight.  You should do all three because they're all beneficial in some way.

Concepts like "muscle gaining phases" are for bodybuilders, which I suspect you are not.  If your goal is really to stay roughly the same size as you are now, but to look more "muscular," then your best bet is to continue doing regular cardio, continue with a healthy diet, and continue lifting weights.  You will look more muscular as you lose fat and get stronger.

Original Post by sbrezovsky:

1)So, should I eat maintenance calories or slightly higher when trying to build muscle? and any cardio I do just allows me to eat more (healthy of course)? Would 3 sessions of cardio (20-30min) a week hinder muscle gain?

2)I'm still about 10lbs overweight, will muscle building keep me at the same weight, but I will consist of more muscle than fat?

3)Will trying to build muscle cause me to gain weight?

I've been trying to lose weight for the longest time, so now this whole "muscle building" is new to me. Thanks!

1) Three sessions of cardio will not hider your muscle gain. As jill1198 said, cardio makes you healthier. It increases capillarity in your muscles and the blood flow to them so you can build (and repair) them faster.

2) Some people can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, without changing their weight. Many cannot. You have been working out for a while now, while keeping your weight constant. So, you probably can not do it easily or it would have already happened.

3) If your fat stays the same and you build muscle, you will definitely gain weight. If you gained primarily muscle, then your percentage of body fat will be less at the new higher weight, and you will probably look better.

edit: some duplication with rjfetter because we were writing at the same time.

Okay, so I have the cardio issue figured out... what about calorie intake? How much over my maintenance?

When you do cardio, your main goal should be cardiovascular health and fitness. Lifting and clean eating are the two things that will help you burn fat. If you find that you are having trouble losing stubborn body fat, it has more to do with your overall diet/eat habits then how much cardio you do. Go back and examine your diet. Get 5-6 small meals a day, lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits/vegetables.

Now in order to keep your cardiovascular system healthy, the recommended amount is 90 minutes a week. However, you can definitely do more than that if you want. I used to buy into the whole thing of how cardio burns muscle. So I only did three 20 minute sessions a week. Awhile back, I decided I wanted to get in better cardiovascular shape and be in better overall condition. So I upped the amount of cardio I did to 2-3 hours a week. This includes two wind sprint sessions, and three regular cardio sessions of 30-45 minutes. Did I lose any muscle? No. If anything, I am in better overall shape (my resting pulse is in the 60's for the first time ever) and I have just as much muscle as I did back then. My strength also continues to increase.

The reason why you constantly see the warning of not doing too much cardio is because a lot people under eat. They don't take in enough calories to begin with and they don't enough protein either. Then when you add on the calories they burn through cardio, they do lose muscle. If you do less cardio, it is easier to keep your caloric intake within range because you burn less.

1) Re-examine your diet and see if there is room for improvement

2) Lift heavy at least 3x per week. Free weights/compound exercises are best.

3) Make sure you are getting enough protein. An easy way to remember is one gram per pound of body weight.

4) Find your maintenance level (how many calories to maintain your weight). Since your goal is to gain muscle, eat 500-700 calories above your maintenance levels.

5) Make sure to take in more calories on workout days to insure that you are staying @ 500-700 calories above your maintenance.

As long as you eat enough, and get enough protein, doing cardio will not hinder your muscle gains. Like I said, the reason why muscle magazines say to avoid too much cardio is because most people don't eat enough and controlling the amount of cardio you do makes it easier to stay within your calorie goal for the week. If you follow the steps I listed above, you will be fine. Just make sure you are eating clean. When you eat clean, the body fat gain will be at a minimum. Then when you get to the point where you want to lose a bit of extra body fat, start taking in 500 less than your maintenance.

Hope this helps.. :)

If you are worrying about being 10lbs overweight then you are not in the mental space to "build muscle".

Building muscle necessarily (apart from the small newbie window) means eating well above maintenance and that will also require adding additional fat.

I suggest you do some more research about what your goals are and the best way to get there.Laughing

Original Post by michaelduff:

 

Building muscle necessarily (apart from the small newbie window) means eating well above maintenance and that will also require adding additional fat.

 

I am pinning you down on this, because my situation is similar to sbrezrovsky and I'd like an answer to this: "I am about to gain 8 pounds of muscle. What is the least amount of fat that you think I can gain along with the 8 pounds of muscle?" I lost 20 pounds to get where I am (182 pounds) and I just got an accurate check on my body density (weighed myself in water), so after I gain the weight, I will know exactly how much of it was muscle vs fat. If you don't have an answer, you can retract the statement and that would be cool too.

http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/facts heets/body_size_and_shape2/increasing_muscle_ mass

To gain muscle mass effectively, a positive energy balance of at least 2000-4000 kilojoules per day is required.  This calls for a general increase in dietary intake. 

 

Now unless you believe that it is possible to add 3/4 of a pound of muscle/day, then body fat must increase.

I'm sure if Melkor was around he would be able to point you to other articles (peer reviewed) but this "positive energy balance" is why people have been going on GOMAD to get big for years.

There is no need to believe me though - its not North Korea.

 

Original Post by michaelduff:

http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/facts heets/body_size_and_shape2/increasing_muscle_ mass

To gain muscle mass effectively, a positive energy balance of at least 2000-4000 kilojoules per day is required.  This calls for a general increase in dietary intake. 

 

Now unless you believe that it is possible to add 3/4 of a pound of muscle/day, then body fat must increase.

I'm sure if Melkor was around he would be able to point you to other articles (peer reviewed) but this "positive energy balance" is why people have been going on GOMAD to get big for years.

There is no need to believe me though - its not North Korea.

 

joules are not equal to calories. Did you mean 2000 Kcal a day?

You didn't answer the question, either. I am a 182 pound guy and I think that I can gain 8 pounds of muscle. How much fat do I have to gain along with it?

I looked it up myself. 1 joule = 0.239005736 calories. So 2000-4000 kjoules is 478 to 956 calories a day, surplus.

Original Post by oldguysrule:

Original Post by michaelduff:

http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/facts heets/body_size_and_shape2/increasing_muscle_ mass

To gain muscle mass effectively, a positive energy balance of at least 2000-4000 kilojoules per day is required.  This calls for a general increase in dietary intake. 

 

Now unless you believe that it is possible to add 3/4 of a pound of muscle/day, then body fat must increase.

I'm sure if Melkor was around he would be able to point you to other articles (peer reviewed) but this "positive energy balance" is why people have been going on GOMAD to get big for years.

There is no need to believe me though - its not North Korea.

 

joules are not equal to calories. Did you mean 2000 Kcal a day?

You didn't answer the question, either. I am a 182 pound guy and I think that I can gain 8 pounds of muscle. How much fat do I have to gain along with it?

 There are numerous imponderables about your personal fat/muscle gain ratio, such as (but not limited to) what your workout regime looks like and what foods you are eating to get to your calories.

If you are wanting to "gain 8lbs of muscle" then (and this is my "broscience" view but backed up by the good people of Stronglifts and Coach Rip) eat yourself past the weight you want to be at and then 'cut' your calories back all the time undertaking a well constructed weight program, involving a barbell, squats and deadlifts.

Apologies - 4000kj is a bit less than 1/2lbs.

 

GREAT article. Thanks BMX.

sbresovsky, you should read this article. 

I quote here: "Chances are that if you're gaining more than 3 pounds per month, you're gaining some fat." That certainly implies that the author thinks that you could be gaining pure muscle at some rate slower than this. A few other places in the article, he uses a lesser (more likely achievable) rate of 2 pounds of pure muscle a month.

That is from T-Muscle and should be read in that context.  It is populated by (mostly) young body building types.

If you have the T of a young man and the life and inclination of a "bodybuilder" then you will more than likely increase the muscle/fat ratio.

Original Post by michaelduff:

That is from T-Muscle and should be read in that context.  It is populated by (mostly) young body building types.

If you have the T of a young man and the life and inclination of a "bodybuilder" then you will more than likely increase the muscle/fat ratio.

Oh man, you are setting yourself up for this when I had (kinda) let you off the hook.

I am an old guy (50) with low testoterone and not much inclination toward bodybuilding. So now, knowing that, you should be able to tell me something like "you'll have to gain at least 30 pounds to gain 8 pounds of muscle."

OK, so what is it going to be (the best ratio that you think I could possibly do if I did everything perfect, but no "cutting" at the end)?

Note: sbrezovsky is young and should do better than me, by the way.

Original Post by oldguysrule:

OK, so what is it going to be (the best ratio that you think I could possibly do if I did everything perfect, but no "cutting" at the end)?

 4.73258:12.934739 is the best you could possibly do.

Hey floggings, I think I get your point. I should stop highjacking sbrezovsky's post and maybe stop hassling michaelduff. Ha, ha, lol. I agree I took it too far.

It is just that there are  people on CC who read muscle mags and take information that applies in an extreme case (a bodybuilder who is working back and forth between 4% and 6% fat) and then they try to apply that stuff to the general public. 

I was trying to get michael to "put up or shut up" and come up with a number that he'd be willing to put a hundred bucks on, like "I'd bet a $100 that you can't gain weight at a muscle to fat ratio any better than 50%." It didn't matter to me what the number actually was. If he isn't willing to say something like that he doesn't have any confidence in what he is talking about and he shouldn't be advising sbrezovsky. That's just my opinion.

OGR

Original Post by oldguysrule:

I quote here: "Chances are that if you're gaining more than 3 pounds per month, you're gaining some fat." That certainly implies that the author thinks that you could be gaining pure muscle at some rate slower than this. A few other places in the article, he uses a lesser (more likely achievable) rate of 2 pounds of pure muscle a month.

But BMX's article also has this quote (in Situation B, which the author seems to be recommending):

Ingest a caloric excess, but just enough to give your body the required amount of nutrients for optimal muscle growth. You can still manage a gain of around 1.5 pounds of muscle per month, but the fat gain will be much lower.

Note: fat gain is lower, but you are still gaining some fat.  I have no idea how much, but I didn't read michael's posts as asserting how much fat you'd have to gain - just that you shouldn't head into muscle gain believing that it's going to all be muscle.

I think we should go back to rjfetter's thesis statement - you are all over-complicating things.  You gotta eat more than you burn to put on muscle, you probably aren't going to have the perfect diet and lifting routine to make it as pure muscle as you'd like, so be prepared to gain some fat along with the muscle.

29 Replies (last)
Advertisement
Advertisement
Allergy Remedies
Is It Possible to Go Natural?
The side effects of allergy medications keep some people from using them. Natural remedies can be a great alternative, but some are more effective than others.